He was 40 years old or so when I was born, so I had the unique experience of a young “in his prime” kind of grandfather. I was spoiled rotten with his attention.
Those who knew my Granpa would agree, Shelly was a part of what’s called a “dying breed” of man. Half cowboy, half saint, a bright star, whose light was cast further than most, terrifying to behold and yet comforting when standing in its warmth. He was a wall, a rock, a man who knew the line of decency and justice and was uncompromising when it came to defending it. Cross him and you’d be crossing a bear. Ask him for help and he’d go above and beyond with a big ol’ grin. And Granpa’s hands told the story. The calluses were born out of selfless service to his country, his wife, and his family.
He was the loyal servant of everyone he encountered. Unless of course he didn’t like you. And if Shelly didn’t like you… you must be up to no good. I never saw him associate with those who weren’t honest and true to their word. Shelly could not be bought or sold. He knew a fair deal and demanded that others respect him as much as he respected them. He made companions for life this way and it made a great impact on me, my brothers, and my cousins. He was a student of people. He watched, listened and read them well. As you might expect, he also won some money at playing cards.
The day we buried him, I met Billy, Granpa’s best friend since first grade. This dear old man welled up with tears as he told me story after story of the two of them getting into mischief on the Houston ship channel in the 1940s and 50s.
Billy said my Granpa was never afraid to try anything. If he didn’t know how to do it, he would make his best guess at it until he figured it out. Of course, I already knew this about my grandfather. It was always that way. Granpa knew everything about everything. Or at least one very important or interesting thing about everything (that made him seem like he knew everything). As we spoke for about half an hour, Billy told me some things I didn’t know about my grandfather. How when Billy had to bury his son, it was “Shelly who stayed with me until the casket was covered up.” “He was there for me in my hardest times.”
Leaving the cemetery that day, I wondered to myself, “what will they say about me when it’s all said and done?” “Will I be known as a kind man, a loving man, someone who would try anything? Or will I be remembered as a busy person, someone who didn’t have time for others, someone who remained safe and never took risks?”
The reality is people will bury you and me one day. They will mourn us and miss us. Then they will pull away from the cemetery and someone will recall the person you were. Will you and I be remembered as a witness to love? Will they remember you as a man who loved God more than anything else, that you lovingly sacrificed for your wife, kids, and neighbors? That you were a good friend? A risk taker, a leader? Or will it be something else?
Brothers, it’s good from time to time to think about our eulogies, not in a morbid way, but in order to set the goal posts where they should be, to help us keep the important things important. It’s easy to say we want to be free men, known for loving, but it’s another to actually slow down the hustle and grind of work/life to spend time with a friend, to write the encouraging note, to get on the floor and play Legos with your kids.
The truth is, we truly don’t know how long we have, and what a tragedy it would be to run out of time. Let’s commit to being the men we want to be remembered for, RIGHT NOW. No more waiting.
Know that I am praying for you and look forward to joining you in Estes Park for the Freedom Summit in October!
For over two decades, Ennie Hickman’s determined pursuit of Gospel joy has aided God in transforming the lives of countless people. With a heart for the outcast and forgotten in society, he has served as a youth minister, coach, domestic missionary, international speaker, non-profit president, and currently serves The Saint Constantine School and College in Houston, TX. Constantine is a new and innovative “Oxbridge” style micro college with a dynamic Christian Classical PK3-12 attached.
Today is the memorial of Sts. Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn and Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and their Companions, Korean Martyrs. It is also Wednesday of [Ember Week](https://exodus90.com/blog/what-are-ember-days/), marking the passing from summer […]Read More
Day 37: Defeat of Antichrist
St. Michael's Lent